SMITH: A stepping stone that wasn't

Chipping away at the to-do list at the home on Santa Rosa's Matanzas Creek that he's owned for four years, Ira McKern plucked up an old stepping stone in the backyard.

What's this? Letters and numbers were carved into it.

McKern realized the stepping stone was the broken half of a headstone. He quickly found the stone that was the other half.

The name on it is Thomas Ross. He was 19 when he died in 1882, 130 years ago.

McKern contacted the hardy volunteers at the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery. They did some checking and determined that Thomas Ross was indeed buried at the historic graveyard and that his headstone has been gone so long no one can recall ever seeing it.

"Perhaps it was taken way back in the &‘60s, when the cemetery was all but abandoned," said Bill Montgomery, a leader of the cemetery volunteers and a retired city parks chief.

He and the other keepers of the Rural Cemetery love it that about one displaced headstone a year is finding its way back to a grave.

Volunteers think the repaired stone that's back beside those of Thomas Ross' parents looks pretty good, all things considered.

AN ACE'S PLACE: Every minute there was something stirring to see at the Veterans Day parade Sunday in Petaluma, by far the biggest and busiest ever.

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